Wednesday, December 26, 2012

End of year traditions in Latin America

Feliz año nuevo to all blogueros. Here are some end of the year traditions from Latin American countries. For this end of the year celebration, you can follow one or more of these traditions to have a wonderful feliz año viejo 2012 while you wait for el año nuevo 2013. 

In Argentina, the entire family gathers together around 11:00 at night to partake of a good table of traditional dishes. Just before midnight, people hurry out in the streets to enjoy fireworks. The first day of January is celebrated at zero hours with cider or champagne, wishing each other a happy new year, sometimes sharing a toast with the neighbors. People go to parties and celebrate until dawn. 

The Ano Novo (New Year in Portuguese) celebration, also known in Brazilian Portuguese by the French word Reveillon, is one of the country's main holidays, and officially marks the beginning of the summer holidays, that usually end by Carnival (analogous to Memorial Day and Labor Day in the United States).
The beach of Copacabana (in Portuguese: Praia de Copacabana) is considered by many to be the location of the best fireworks show in the world. Brazilians traditionally have a copious meal with family or friends at home, in restaurants or private clubs, and consume alcoholic beverages. They usually dress in white, to bring good luck into the new year. Fireworks, offerings to African-Brazilian deities, eating grapes or lentils are some of the customs associated with the holiday.
The city of São Paulo also has a famous worldwide event: the Saint Silvester Marathon (Corrida de São Silvestre), which traverses streets between Paulista Avenue and the downtown area. In other regions, different events also take place. At Fortaleza (Ceará) there is a big party by the yacht area. People gather together for dinner and for a show of one band/group that usually plays during Salvador´s Carnaval. 

Ecuador celebrates a unique tradition on the last day of the year. Elaborate effigies, called Años Viejos (Old Years) are created to represent people and events from the past year. Often these include political characters or leaders that the creator of the effigy may have disagreed with. The dummies are made of straw, newspaper, and old clothes, with papier-mâché masks. Often they are also stuffed with fire crackers. At midnight the effigies are lit on fire to symbolize burning away of the past year and welcoming of the New Year. The origin of the tradition has its roots in pagan Roman and pre-Roman Spanish traditions still celebrated in Europe and which were brought to many countries of Latin-America in colonial times. Other rituals are performed for the health, wealth, prosperity and protection. For example, traditionally each person eats twelve grapes before midnight, making a wish with each grape. Popularly, yellow underwear is said to attract positive energies for the New Year. Finally, walking around the block with one's suitcase will bring the person the journey of their dreams. 

In the town of Antigua, Guatemala, people usually get together at the Santa Catalina Clock Arch to celebrate Fin del Año (New Year's Eve). The celebrations are centered around Guatemala City's Plaza Mayor. Banks close on New Year’s Eve, and businesses close at noon on New Year’s Eve. Starting at sundown, firecrackers are lit, continuing without interruption into the night. Guatemalans wear new clothes for good fortune and down a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. The celebrations include religious themes which may be either Mayan or Catholic. 

Mexicans down a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. Another tradition is making a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year; before midnight, this list is thrown into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the new year. At the same time, thanks is expressed for all the good things had during the year that is coming to its end so that they will continue to be had in the new year. The celebration in Mexico City is centered around Zocalo, the city's main square.

In Venezuela, those who want to find love in the New Year are supposed to wear red underwear on New Year's Eve; those who want money must have a bill of high value when toast, those who want to travel must go out home while carrying some luggage, and so on. Yellow underwear is worn to bring happiness in the New Year. Usually, people listen to radio specials, which give a countdown and announce the New Year according to the legal hour in Venezuela, and, in Caracas, following the twelve bells from the Cathedral of Caracas. During these special programs is a tradition to broadcast songs about the sadness on the end of the year, being popular favorites "El año viejo", "Cinco pa' las 12" and "Año nuevo, vida nueva".

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